St. Croix 70.3
My first half ironman of the season…not quite sure I was ready, but you could not ask for a more beautiful venue than St. Croix. The island is spectacular, the locals, race volunteers, and Race Director Tom Guthrie was incredibly wonderful to all the racers. It is truly a destination race and as Don a man I ran with for 5 miles on Sunday said, “This was a “bucket” list race, one to check off your list of great races to do before die! (Remember bucket list…a race to do before you “kick the bucket”!)
The morning dawned sunny and warm with a small chop on the Caribbean Sea. It promised to be a gorgeous day. The swim began with the pro men and then every two minutes thereafter waves of people hit the water. My wave was last (of course), and we had the opportunity to swim through lots of people on the way back to shore. I exited the swim in 34:12. Then off to the most incredibly difficult bike ride of any race in the world! Everyone one believes climbing the Beast with the average grade being 14% to the steepest of 27% covering just 7/10’s of a mile is what the races is all about. In reality, the East end of the island is one challenging hill after another. The ocean, winds, heat, humidity and tough road surfaces all end up making the race what it is famous for and one you do not want to miss. Unfortunately for me, I ended up with only my 2nd flat tire of my racing career, at mile 47 of the bike. I thought about riding in for the last 10 miles, but knew we had a tough climb and long descent still ahead. So, jumped off and changed my tire. I was pretty pleased that it only took 6 minutes but did see my friend and competitor Lydia bike on by me! When I later told Kevin he said, time for more lessons as I could be quicker. I guess there is an “art’ to changing a tire and I will be faster next time! I was off the bike in 2:58 with that time including both of your transitions.
The run takes place in the heat of the day…just like Kona! I ran out of transition and realized I had forgotten my visor, but since I was in second place there was no way I would venture back in there for my hat. I was hoping my 50 sunscreen was still on my face. I felt pretty good on the run and ran a steady pace. I saw Lydia as I came in on the bike and figures she was at least 2 minutes up and knew I needed to run a good race. The run course is 2 loops and has 2 rolling hills before you hit the Buccaneer Resort and the big hill on the golf course. There is great support with aid stations every .6 of a mile…and I needed everyone on that day! I saw Kevin on the way back into town and he told me Lydia was not too far ahead. I continued to run a steady pace and at 6 miles was able to overtake her and move into the lead. I finished the run in a 1:45, eight minutes faster than 2008. I did win my age group and finished 6th overall amateur woman, and set a PR for me on that course by 9 minutes. It was a great day on a great course. A quick jump in the ocean after I finished, short massage, lots of water and then off to the awards party that evening. Again, if you have the opportunity, make sure you do this race, you will not be disappointed!
See you at the races….